History in the making as 100-year old XOD class races at Royal Lymington Yacht Club
with Edwardian fashions to the fore
Any spectators on the banks of the Lymington River on Friday afternoon (June 3rd) would be forgiven for thinking it was the early 1900s as ladies dressed in elegant long navy and white dresses joined gentlemen in reefers and caps and crews in white overalls, all preparing their classic wooden boats, that first raced in Southampton Water on 3rd June 1911, for the start of the XOD Lymington Division’s celebration of the Class Centenary.
A fleet of 31 of these beautiful 21ft keelboats, first raced in 1911, mustered on the start line in the Solent. Lymington’s resident fleet was joined by a dozen or so from the Yarmouth Division and members of the Itchenor and Parkstone divisions also attended.
Competitive across the generations
Despite a stiff easterly breeze, crews were determined to show off their period costumes to the spectators and resisted putting on their oilskins, instead choosing to get a little damp; no great hardship on the hottest day of the year so far.
The Royal Lymington Yacht Club, whose chief race officer Nigel Thomas himself looked rather grand dressed in a naval uniform of the period, set a windward-leeward course for the class across Lymington’s river entrance. Pulling away from the start line very convincingly was the Fleet Captain William Norris in X 178 Beatrix, in close company with William Westmacott, grandson of the X’s original designer, Alfred Westmacott in X 56 Xanthus and the Olympic bronze medallist (from 1968), and consistent top performer, Ado Jardine in X 140, Lucrezia. They exchanged the lead until the first mark, where Lucrezia got ahead, followed by Xanthus and Beatrix.
That order was maintained until the last beat when there was an exciting shift of position as Karl Thorne in X 34 Mersa in fourth split from the fleet and stood out into the stronger tide and better wind so that Xanthus, Mersa and Beatrix rounded the last mark almost together and followed Lucrezia downwind to the turning mark for the River.
“We had a good last beat, and got into a nice breeze,” explained Karl. “We found a favourable windshift, bringing us up into third position then it all came good.” He was referring to a luffing incident with Beatrix just before the River entrance which forced the latter into a 360 degree penalty turn, enabling Mersa to take second over the finish line.
An equally determined and skilful performance put the youngest skipper, Ben Paton, into third place in X 48 XL at the finish. Beatrix was fourth and John Olliff-Cooper’s Xenon, X 175 with Aberdeen Asset Management’s Patrick Walker crewing, fifth. No one, however, could get past the evergreen wiles of Ado Jardine, who extended his lead throughout the two-hour race.
“We had an excellent afternoon on the water,” commented winner Ado Jardine. “We were a bit damp by the end but the organisers certainly ordered the right weather!”
The ‘Best Dressed Crew’ award went to the crew of X 119 Lonestar. Thanks go to Danebury Vineyards, a Hampshire vineyard that sponsored the Edwardian Race Day reception.
The Lymington Edwardian Race is one of a series of events taking place to mark the XOD Class Centenary. Celebrations will continue during Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week when the XODs are running their own three-day Centenary regatta within their usual racing programme, also sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management, from 9th – 11th August. The XOD Class is the largest class to start at Cowes, with a record-breaking 100 boats expected on the start line in this special year.
Class website: http://www.xonedesign.org.uk